Four leadership lessons I’ve learnt first hand

Three years ago I started DigitLab, and with it I began leading people. I wanted to lead a team instead of manage them.  I believe that people are at their best when they are happy, challenged, inspired and a part of a bigger vision. I have always believed it – now was my opportunity to test the theory. I have been able to operate DigitLab with a utopian mindset of leadership, free from the challenges of historical management and old business process. I was allowed to build a business that valued people before process.  I have learnt a lot over the years and wanted to share four principles that I have found invaluable in leading people. These are not always easy to make happen, they require trust, humility and faith in the people you have in your team, which leads me to my first principle: Hire people who get excited about your vision We hire based on three main principles; can you do the job (capability) and do you dream about the same things we do (chemistry). After intensive interviews and tests to make sure people are capable of doing the job, our final interview with potential employees is dedicated to finding chemistry and assessing capacity. We drive hard to understand what drives this person, what excites them and what they see as their value to add to a team. What I am looking for at the end of the day is simple but difficult to find. What are your...

What influential South Africans think about Social Media for Business

A few months ago Fuseware released a report that I was privileged enough to be a part of. Fuseware questioned a variety of influencers from different fields in South Africa recently. The goal was to get a better picture of where South Africa, and the rest of the world, is headed in terms of social media usage in business. One thing has become completely apparent – social media management is the new wave of communication that is revolutionizing the way businesses and consumers interact. It is affecting companies of all sizes, and departments of all levels. Most prominently used in PR, marketing and customer feedback channels, social media is also beginning to slice through viral sales, market research and assisted product development. We questioned 5 influencers related to the SA web and media on their thoughts on the business case for social media in South Africa. The opinions in the report are by: – Arthur Goldstuck – Jonathan Shapiro (AKA Zapiro) – Mike Stopforth – Mike Saunders – Galen Schultz – Gavin Mannion You can download the report social media for business here.

One Day Without Shoes

DigitLab went to work without shoes yesterday in support of the one day without shoes campaign. An incredible exerience that opened our eyes to what its like to live “out of our shoes” and experience life a different way. One day without shoes is a fantastic initiative and we wish Tom Shoes all the best in spreading this campaign further around the world. I was pleased to see how social media was again used to get a movement off the ground. In fact, the one day without shoes campaign was designed around the sharing nature of social media. The campaign gave out free posters, website banners and other promotional tools that people could use to promote the concept to others. This material made it so simple to create awareness. I, for one, used this marketing material in a presentation I gave yesterday to explain to the audience why I was barefoot for the day. The response was great as the audience were then encouraged to support the cause by “going barefoot” through the presentation. In addition to the free marketing material, people (fans of one day without shoes) shared their experience with others as they changed their profile pictures on facebook, skype and twitter. This buzz attributed the following comment from a friend of mine: I have no idea what this is about but I want to find out because it look awesome This campaign worked so well because it strummed a chord in the hearts of people. Helping others...

Google Chrome provides a personalised view of the Internet

Internet users are starting to leave Firefox and have started using Google Chrome. Google Chrome is fast becoming a preferred internet browser by many of the internets influencers and power-users. So lets look into how this will impact your SEO efforts in attracting the attention of influential internet users. Starred/Bookmarked Results are appearing on the font page When people bookmark pages in google chrome it syncs with their google account and prioritises those results in google search. Google does this because they believe that the most meaningful results are those that come from sources that you trust. This means that our SEO and internet marketing job just got harder. If we are not able to build trust with our consumers and our competitors are then they will most likely hold a top, front page position instead of us. Here’s an example: I have bookmarked TomorrowToday, the company where I am a Keynote Speaker and Social Media Coach. Recently I did a search on Keynote Speaker and found a page full of results that did not link to TomorrowToday. I only found TomorrowToday on the second page of the search result. However, because I have TomorrowToday bookmarked the search result displayed TomorrowToday on the front page in my starred/bookmarked listings. This listing showed up at the top of the page. Building Trust Building trust is a complicated and onerous task. It is done by building relationships with the end consumer and  learning to appreciate their unique situation. Companies and brands online need to build trustworthy communities in order to naturally...

Digital lifestyles create a way to segment our target market

One of the biggest challenges with online marketing is segmenting your market. The normal demographic, geographic and psychgraphic segmentatics tools don’t always work when looking at digital consumers. I believe that any campaign launched in the digital space should consider the digital lifestyle of the consumer they are targeting. Too often we end up targeting low technology users with high end smart phone applications. Yes that target market may own a smart phone but their digital lifestyle is such that the application may not engage the consumer. TNS surveys have created a great framework to use called Digital Lifestyles. Take a read through the lifestyles and leave a comment letting me know which lifestyle best describes you. INFLUENCERS The internet is an integral part of my life. I’m young and a big mobile Internet user and generally access everywhere, all of the time. I’m a blogger, a passionate social networker with many social network friends. I’m also a big online shopper, even via my mobile. I want to make sure as many people as possible hear my online voice. COMMUNICATORS I just love talking and expressing myself, whether that’s face to face, on a fixed line, mobile or on social networking sites, instant messaging or just emailing people. I really want to express myself in the online world in the way that I can’t in the offline one. I tend to be a smart phone user and I’m connecting online from my mobile, at home, at work or at college....

How valuable is your website in B2B purchasing decisions?

The invention of social media and blogging has left a big question unanswered in the online marketing realms. Just how valuable is a company website in business to business purchasing decisions? Well it seems that they are very valuable but not neccessarily influential in in the three stages of purchasing. This information comes from the Buyershpere report which I believe shows great insight into the platforms neccessary to create business to business sales leads from the internet. A Summary: How important is your company website? When looking at buying business services there are three stages of the purchase that have been identified: Identifying and defining the need Indentifying potential suppliers Final selection of the supplier In all three stages a company’s website was the primary channel used to gather information, even more than web searches. In stage one industry press, word of mouth and events were next in line as channels used to identify and define the need for the purchase. The company website in this case has the opportunity to establish brand, share product details and specifications and add value to the different purchase stages. the interesting fact that rose oot of the study though was that the company website had very little influence on the conclusion of each stage. The effect of social media on business to business purchasing decisions It’s all about influence! Every stage of the purchase cycle revealed that  social media channels and word of mouth were the primary influential channels that influenced the decisions...

Is social media changing the way we watch TV?

There are big questions about the longevity of TV alongside the competition of online media. Online video content has become so popular globally and in even in South Africa there seems to be a love for video content. Recently YouTube has broken into the top 5 most visited websites by South Africans. So the question has become – is TV on the way out? I would argue no. It seems that TV programs are actually experiencing an increase in viewership. So why is this happening if people are obviously spending more and more time online? I would like to suggest that social media is shaping a new way of watching TV and that rather than phasing out TV it has chosen a symbiotic relationship. Here are a few quick thoughts about how this works: 1) Social media helps promote TV Social media is often used as an outlet to express watt important to us. When people are excited about important TV episodes/programmes they will use social media to share their enthusiasm. The last Survivor episode, an important rugby match and the chilean miners rescue are all examples of TV being shared in excitement on social networks. Once this excitement is shared more people are exposed to the TV event taking place and the potential of more people ‘tuning in’ increases. 2) Social Media adds a new layer of engagement Once the game is on and people are sitting around the beloved box there is often a conversation that begins. It...

Mike Saunders and Barrie Bramley talk about Social Media

I spent last week in Johannesburg and had a chance to chat to Barry Bramley about social media in South Africa. Barry has since put our conversation down on a podcast which captures a few clear points about social media management. Bearing in mind alot of the content here is just my opinion but we looked some case studies, why social media is important, how I launched my consultancy, the most important asset to social media and B2B marketing online. You can download/listen the podcast here

What on earth is a Facebook Community page?

The biggest question I am asked as a social media coach has been “what should I use to promote my business? A page or a group?” Well now we have something new to consider: Facebook Community Pages What it looks like and why have one? A Community Page looks and feels exactly like a normal Facebook page but it has a slightly different purpose. The page is meant to be used for all the unofficial band, brand and business pages that are out there. Facebook seems to be trying to bring a more official status to a Page by letting the unofficial pages have their own platform. What’s so different about it? Basically the biggest difference is that when these pages gain popularity they have the potential to be handed over to the Facebook community. This will mean that the community page will start to look like a wiki about the page topic. Why not just use a group? My personal opinion is that Facebook is trying to phase out groups but there is no proof for that other than my gut feel. Another thought would be SEO. Groups on Facebook are not indexed by Google. So if you would like to start a community of people and wish that community had a search engine presence then a Community Page is they way forward. The other thing to remember is that pages provide user statistics. So your community page could provide some interesting insight into its users. Allfacebook makes a...

Virtuoso Internet Marketing – Product Development

The internet has always been a place where two very different mindsets exists. These mindsets have been at war with each other since the beginning of website development and this has purely been because they do not understand each other. Difference in opinion Marketing/Advertising and Web Development are seemingly two opposing internet thought patterns. Marketing/Advertising is always concerned with the look and feel of a website. They are very concerned about the end user and how the website builds the brand of the company it represents. Web Developers have the tough job of making all of this happen online. They are continually looking to create bigger and better websites with more and more functionality. This functionality allows more to happen on the internet but is not neccessarily easy-to-use or even understood by the end user.

Developing a Tourism Internet Portfolio

City of Choice is a tourism company in Queensburgh, Durban. They focus on the wellness travel niche and approached me to consult on the development of their website and the internet marketing campaign. They do a fair amount of business to business marketing and wanted to allow for both B2B marketing and end user marketing through their website. I took the company through a process called ‘Virtuoso‘, an internet marketing philosophy that I developed with a colleague Caroline Hastings-Brown.

Internet Marketing Needs to Blend Art and Strategy

Internet Marketing is an art form that is difficult to understand and yet so simple in concept. Marketing your website needs to be taken seriously if you are to succeed at it. Dedicating time, energy and resource to understand this marketing form and develop your marketing plan is essential to successful results.

Sesalos – Finding its place in the market

Around the time that I started working at Sesalos (PTY) LTD, Sesalos was a ‘complete media solution’ to their clients. Sesalos offered graphic design, websites, TV, corporate video’s, 3D visualisation, radio advertising and music recording to its client base. It’s client base was very broad and included corporate clients as well as musicians. My role in the company was to market Sesalos to advertising agenicies in Durban. I quickly realised that even though Sesalos was a great tool for advertising agencies to use, it was seen as a competitor as most agencies did a fair amount of the design and production work in-house. This bought about the first big marketing challenge – I needed to reposition Sesalos in the mind of the advertising industry. Analysing the Service Offering The current service offering that Sesalos had was creating alot of misconceptions in the market place about who they were. Were the an advertising company, a marketing agency or a production house. In speaking with the MD I found out that it was the vision of Sesalos to be a backend to advertising agencies. Sesalos wanted to be a production company. So here we had our first clear directive on the marketing front. Sesalos needed to position itself as a media production company. This meant a restructure in the product/service offering. We stopped advertising our graphic design department, closed the 3D visualisation department and made a key decision to focus all the marketing efforts towards the advertising industry and to move out...

JJS Music Festival – Marketing and Production Management

The JJS Music Festival was the vision of Grant Nelson. Grant wanted to create an alternative environment for young people to attend on New Years Eve. This vision lead Grant to organise a music festival that invited Christian artists to perform over  New Years Eve. The festival had been running for 2 years before I got involved. Production Management My first job at the festival was running the lighting on the main stage. It was there that I got a passion for the event and really started to understand Grant’s vision. A few months later I was called and asked to run the entire Production setup for the next event in 2000/2001. This involved negotiating all the supplier contracts for the event, designing the stage layout, putting the team to run the production and the overall management of getting the job done. I loved this job because it was challenging and always involved finding creative solutions to complex issues. I carried on to run the production for the event for the next 6 years. The event had grown tremendously over that time and the final event saw the production portfolio looking after three stages. Marketing Management When I started with the JJS project I was so interested in seeing the event succeed that I started applying my mind to the marketing aspects of the event. Grant later approached me to run the Marketing for the festival. I jumped at the task excited to turn the event into a well known...

Article Topics

Check Mike’s Availability for Your Event

  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • When is your event?
    Date Format: DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • Any additional information?

Where People and Technology Meet